11 Apr In The Beginning: My Journey To Eating Gluten-Free
In The Beginning: My Journey To Eating Gluten-Free
I’m pretty sure those in the gluten-free community have interesting stories to share when reminiscing over the start of a gluten-free lifestyle. My beginning was crucial for me because I needed to avoid gluten for health reasons. I do understand there are various reasons for going on a gluten-free diet. Like me, there are many affected by gluten’s effects. Others may go gluten free for weight loss. Some do it because it seems to be a trend right now. I’ve also read on the beneficial effects of going gluten free for individuals on the autism spectrum. Whatever the reason, we all have the stories.
My first week without gluten was difficult. At the time, I had been working on my graduate degree through online courses and needed to travel to the school’s physical location for an exam. This trip was a 6-hour drive from home. I did not realize how mentally exhausting it would be to figure out what foods had harmful ingredients for my body. Because of this trip and being a newbie at gluten-free dining, I did not pack any safe foods. I figured that I would be able to find restaurants with safe options. I am almost 100% positive that I ended up ordering salads for most of that trip. However, one memory is very clear to me. I had completed my exam with enough time to spare for a sit-in lunch at Red Lobster before heading back home. Before I continue this story, I need you to understand that this was my FIRST week going gluten free. I was in for the ride of my life!!! First came those delicious, mouth-watering Cheddar Bay biscuits that Red Lobster brings to all its guests. I can remember getting whacked with a hard realization that I could not eat these amazing biscuits. Then, I was given an allergen guide, which gave me the list of all the foods prepared and the common allergens associated. Side note here: I’m extremely grateful for restaurants that have allergen guides. This is extremely important in today’s day and age where there are multiple food allergies. Anyhow, I looked at this guide and began to cry. Yes. I cried. My poor husband was trying to comfort me the best he could, telling me, “It’s ok!” No, it was not “ok” for me. I wanted a seafood pasta and could not have it. Then I would look at my second choice and realize that I could not have that either. I believe I ended up ordering fish, veggies and mashed potatoes. If you think about it, this was a great dish to choose. Not for me. Not then, anyways. At that time, I did not have a care in the world about healthy eating. For as long as I could remember, I was that really skinny petite girl who could eat a man’s size meal with no issues or weight gain. I liked my fatty foods. Bring on the extra butter and cream!
I ate that meal with no desire. It was an eye-opening moment for me. And since I was so new to this drastic lifestyle change, I did not know what to do. Unfortunately, my local grocery store had a very small selection of gluten-free foods, which didn’t help either. A few weeks later, my family relocated out of state and because I began to live in a large city, I was able to find many gluten-free options.
One thing I’d like to point out is that gluten-free substitutions does not necessarily mean healthier. This beginning of mine introduced me to a healthier lifestyle. It was a difficult beginning, but I learned. My portion control and incorporation of many more veggies are a direct result of going gluten free. In the beginning, everything seemed like a restriction for me. I guess maybe that’s how it always is when you step out of familiarity and comfort. Now, I have much more confidence in knowing what to look for. It takes some time and effort, but it is doable.
I would love to hear about your beginning journey to the world of gluten-free eating!